What’s up with the N. Crimean Canal now

What’s up with the N. Crimean Canal now

Mikhail Katkov

The Russian military went to Kherson and unblocked the North Crimean Canal. Now the peninsula will receive water from the usual source, which until 2014 provided 85% of its needs. Long restoration work is ahead, the Ukrainian part of the channel is heavily overgrown, some structures have been blown up. But then the Crimea will be able to get ahead of the Krasnodar Territory in the production of agricultural products.
Either drought or flood
It seems that Crimea has solved almost all the main problems. At the end of 2015, they broke through the energy blockade, in 2018 they opened a bridge across the Kerch Strait, establishing a ground connection with the “mainland”. Visa and MasterCard still do not work on the peninsula, but there is Mir and the banking system, which, although under Western sanctions, is quite effective.
The water was blocked in May 2014, and since then the damage from the blockade has reached one and a half trillion rubles. The most difficult was 2020, the worst drought in 150 years. The reservoirs became so shallow that it was no longer possible to swim in a boat. The Crimean authorities supplied water for four hours a day: two in the morning and the same in the evening.
In 2021, it could be even worse, so restrictions were introduced again in the spring. In the summer, heavy rains fell, even a flood occurred. However, already in October, several rivers dried up, and in general, the amount of precipitation in some places turned out to be 43% less than the norm.
The Crimeans had to water the fields with the so-called hard underground water – with chlorides and sodium salts. The soil now needs to be washed, so the water from the North Crimean Canal comes in handy.
Crimea was going to sue Kiev, but now this, apparently, will not be needed. There was also no need for other water supply projects, sometimes frankly dangerous for the environment.
Three ideas and one solution
For eight years, 38 wells have been drilled on the peninsula for groundwater. That helped. Now the filling of the Crimean reservoirs associated with the canal is 170 million cubic meters, a maximum for 35 years. In some places there is so much water that there were fears of too violent floods. In the Bakhchisaray district, another reservoir with a capacity of seven million cubic meters is being built.
Previously, only camel thorns and wormwood grew in the Northern Crimea.
In 1963, the great Soviet construction began, turning the region into a blooming garden. Including due to leaks from the North Crimean Canal, groundwater was formed that feeds the roots of plants.
If you simply pump it out, it would end in a few years and the Northern Crimea would return to its original state. The project with water intakes was to be fully operational in 2023. By this time, it was planned to build a new large channel through which water would flow from the underground horizons of the Prostornensky, Novogrigorevsky and Nezhinsky water intakes to Feodosia, Sudak and Kerch.
The Crimean authorities were aware of the risks, so they promised to make sure that all the water used was returned back through a unique drainage system.
There was also an idea to extract water from under the bottom of the Sea of Azov. Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin claimed that it was suitable for technical needs: irrigation, heating and cooling systems. After processing, you can even drink. However, experts warned that fresh water, most likely, would be scarce and would soon be replaced by salt water.
The most ambitious and expensive option is desalination plants. According to Kommersant, Rostec was going to build nine such facilities in Crimea with a total capacity of one billion cubic meters of water. Four would work on the basis of evaporation, the rest would use reverse osmosis technology, filtering sea water through a special membrane.
This would require at least 900 MW of additional power generation (eg gas turbine). The program was supposed to be implemented by 2030. In this case, only turbines would cost 78 billion rubles. And this is taking into account the fact that desalinated water is considered “dead”, that is, it cannot be drunk unless it is first mixed with normal water.
new reality
“Now these projects are irrelevant. The water that will go through the North Crimean Canal will cover all the needs of the peninsula. There is no doubt about it. supported, and the Ukrainian one is unlikely to have suffered too seriously,” says Mikhail Bolgov, head of the laboratory, chief researcher at the Institute of Water Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
At the same time, the hydrologist noted that the pumping of groundwater should be stopped immediately, as well as the construction of a conduit to Feodosia, Sudak and Kerch.
“The use of groundwater increases their mineralization. The statements of the Crimean authorities that they have found a way to avoid salinization, in my opinion, are unfounded. It threatened with a catastrophe,” he emphasizes.
President of the Crimean Academy of Sciences Viktor Tarasenko believes that the opening of the North Crimean Canal can make the region a leader in agriculture.
“First of all, this will solve the problems of the agricultural sector. We will revive agriculture in the steppe and northern parts of Crimea. In Soviet times, we had about 400,000 hectares of irrigated area, and now we have 25,000. grapes and vegetables, engage in animal husbandry. <…> We will easily block the Krasnodar Territory in terms of supplies,” the scientist is sure.
At the same time, Tarasenko admits that serious expenses will be needed. First of all, it is necessary to clear the channel, which in some places is littered with construction and household waste.
“It’s easier with the main part, water will be let in quickly. Even if half goes into the ground, it’s okay — let the groundwater be replenished. But the branches will have to be dealt with for many years, because they are all over Crimea., you need to buy a new one. Previously, it could be purchased abroad, but now you need to set up your own production, “the specialist argues.
The main thing, he adds, is not to get carried away and not to give too much water at once. In the 1960s, when the canal had just been built, there was a flood because everyone was overjoyed and overestimated the possibilities.

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